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Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival marches online

More than 100 movies will be streamed beginning Tuesday

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Sep 16, 2020

"Team Marco" with Anthony Patellis (left) and Owen Vaccaro (from “Daddy's Home”) star in the independent feature film “Team Marco” being shown at the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival online next week.

Stocked with more than 100 films, the 14th annual Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival will be streamed online beginning Tuesday.

Janeen Paulauskis, executive director of the festival, said there has been strong interest for the festival this year. “We’re up a few films from last year,” she said.

While this year’s film festival won’t be utilizing the Beach Theater on Estero Boulevard as in year’s past, Paulauskis said filmmakers have been “excited” about entering their films for the festival. Paulauskis has been in touch with producers and filmmakers since April when the pandemic begun and said they understand the festival’s concern for “everybody’s health.”

Paulauskis said other film festivals across the nation have also taken the streaming route this year due to COVID-19. “Interest has been remarkably strong,” she said. The festival has been doing interviews with some of the filmmakers who are represented and posting them on their Facebook page.

Rather than an array of independent films from across the globe being shown at the Beach Theater on Estero Boulevard, this year’s films will be streamed online at FMBFilmfest.com. The cost of each feature-length movie is $8. There are packages of short films of between six to nine movies for the same price.

William Russ, known for parts in “Boy Meets World” and “American History X,” has a part in the independent short film “Father by Law.”

The movies shown will include local shorts, international shorts, short documentaries and student films. Workshops led by independent filmmakers will also be online and will be free. Paulauskis said assistance will be provided to those who want to stream the movies from their computer to their television sets.

One of the films shown this year will be “Her Place,” a short from Sarasota’s Kathryn Parks, who also stars in the movie about a 1950’s housewife whose plans take a sudden turn while waiting for her significant other to return home. This is her second film with the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival. She wrote and starred in “Fifty Words,” a short film shown last year at the festival.

Parks produced, wrote and directed “Her Place,” which was filmed at the Umbrella House, considered one of Sarasota’s most architecturally significant homes and rated by Architectural Digest as one of the five most remarkable house of the mid-20th century. The home is owned by Bob and Anne Essner

Parks, who has also done a lot of theater work in Sarasota, said she “wanted to write something that would appeal to women. There is a lot of nostalgia around the 1950’s. It’s not all that it was cracked up to be,” she said. The movie ends with the main character back in today’s world, in a comparison of the times.

Parks had a role in Kevin Smith’s film “Killroy was Here,” which was filmed in Sarasota. Parks said the director of films such as “Clerks,” “Dogma,” “Mallrats” and “Chasing Amy” was “super cool” and “very approachable.” In 2018, Smith had a heart attack but has since recovered. The film has not yet been released

Kathryn Parks, a Sarasota-based director, producer and actress stars in the five-minute short “Her Place,” which was filmed in Sarasota. The short will be shown as part of the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival.

A Sarasota native, Parks has a background in musical theatre, and has worked on television and in commercials. She also works in marketing. Parks said she made the move into directing so “I could take control of my career and create really good roles for myself.”

Among the other movie highlights are the film “Two Ways Home,” which features Tom Bower. Bower’s credits include “Beverly Hills Cop II,” “Die Hard 2,” “Georgia” and more recently Casey Affleck’s “Light of My Life.”

An official selection of the festival is the short film “The Lost Weekend,” about the world of online dating. The film features actress Catherine Curtin, who starred in the television show “Orange is the New Black” and has had parts in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and the show “Homeland.” The short also features Reed Birney, who has acted in the show “House of Cards” and whose credits include the films “Four Friends” and “Morning Glory.”

Amanda Jane Stern plays the role of Unethically Monogamous Mary, one of the online dates of the main character Charlie in “The Lost Weekend.” The film has won several awards at film festivals across the country.

Stern plays the role of a young woman who says she wants somebody “who is real” and not consumed by being online but then ends up ignoring Charlie on their date by being focused on her phone.

Amanda Jane Stern plays one of the dates in the online dating movie "The Lost Weekend," being shown online as part of the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival next week.

“It is a terrible date. He tries to talk to me. I take photos and post them to Instagram,” Stern said.

A New York City native who writes a bi-monthly column titled “Queerly Ever After” for the film magazine “Film Inquiry” and writes for the website PROVOKR, Stern said “The Lost Weekend” pokes fun at online dating.

Recently, Stern acted in “Why not choose Love: A Mary Pickford Manifesto” about the silent era, with Cary Elwes and Summer Phoenix.

Another of Stern’s movies garnering attention in the independent film circuit is “1 Angry Black Man,” which she said is timely due to the unrest this summer over the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. She has also directed a web series “In Retrospect.”

Opening night this year will start on Tuesday at 6 p.m. as a Zoom networking event with award nomination announcements. The awards will be given out on Sunday, Sept. 27.

“We look forward to seeing everybody at the movies virtually and look forward to seeing everybody at the movie theater in April,” Paulauskis said.

Next year’s film festival is scheduled to run from April 13-18.

The full schedule for the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival can be found at FMBFilmfest.com.